Mar 7, 2019

Senate makes bipartisan strides toward drug patents

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Republican Sen. Susan Collins and a bipartisan group of her colleagues are wading very gently into the debate about drug companies' patent protections, specifically the "thickets" of patents that keep competitors at bay for complex biologic drugs.

Driving the news: Collins introduced a bill yesterday that would ensure that biologics' patents are included on a list the FDA already maintains.

  • Brand-name drugmakers would also have a harder time winning the inevitable lawsuits over any new patents they file after a biosimilar competitor has filed for FDA approval.

Reality check: This is not necessarily a very muscular bill.

  • Drugmakers are already pretty upfront about their patent protections; a different kind of public listing for those patents would not be a disincentive to keep filing them.

Yes, but: Any congressional interest in drug patents — and any tacit agreement that pharma companies game that system — opens a door that the industry's lobbyists are working very hard to keep closed.

Go deeper: Big Pharma's GOP firewall is weakening

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George Zimmerman sues Buttigieg and Warren for $265M

George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, in November 2013. Photo: Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images

George Zimmerman filed a lawsuit in Polk County, Fla. seeking $265 million in damages from Democratic presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren, accusing them of defaming him to "garner votes in the black community."

Context: Neither the Massachusetts senator nor the former Southbend mayor tweeted his name in the Feb. 5 posts on what would've been the 25th birthday of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teen Zimmerman fatally shot in 2012. But Zimmerman alleges they "acted with actual malice" to defame him.

4 takeaways from the Nevada Democratic debate

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The relative civility of the last eight Democratic debates was thrown by the wayside Wednesday night, the first debate to feature the billionaire "boogeyman," Michael Bloomberg, whose massive advertising buys and polling surge have drawn the ire of the entire field.

The big picture: Pete Buttigieg captured the state of the race early on, noting that after Super Tuesday, the "two most polarizing figures on this stage" — Bloomberg and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders — could be the only ones left competing for the nomination. The rest of candidates fought to stop that momentum.

Klobuchar squares off with Buttigieg on immigration

Buttigieg and Klobuchar in Las Vegas on Feb. 19. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg went after Sen. Amy Klobuchar on the debate stage Wednesday for voting to confirm Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan and voting in 2007 to make English the national language.

What she's saying: "I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete, but let me tell you what it's like to be in the arena. ... I did not one bit agree with these draconian policies to separate kids from their parents, and in my first 100 days, I would immediately change that."